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Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

October 15, 2008

When I first started blogging this summer, I read a lot about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, so I went out and bought it.  Then, I let it sit on the shelf for a while because I was afraid my expectations were too high.  Boy, was I wrong.  I loved this book – it was even better than I expected.

This book is written as a series of letters.  World War II has just ended and Juliet Ashton, who is an author, is living in London when she receives a  letter from Dawsey Adams who lives on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands.  Dawsey has an old book that had belonged to Juliet at one time.  In his letter he mentions the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a sort of book club, that sprang up because of the German occupation of Guernsey during World War II.  This leads to a flurry of letters between Juliet and members of the Society.  Juliet decides there might be a book in the story of the lives of these people and decides to visit Guernsey.  Once there, she falls in love with the island and it’s people.

One of my favorite lines in the book is in a letter from Juliet to Dawsey when she says, “That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book.  It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”  This book is charming and delightful.  It made me want to visit Guernsey and made me miss the art of letter writing.  This book counts for my Fall Into Reading Challenge.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2008 8:26 am

    I like the idea of a book in letters.

  2. October 15, 2008 8:57 am

    I did the same thing as you…read a ton about this book, got it, and kept passing it over. Sounds like I need to re-think it! Great review…

  3. October 15, 2008 9:12 am

    It’s always so nice when a book lives up to our expectations! I haven’t read this yet but it’s on the tbr list. Thanks for reminding me to move it up!

  4. October 15, 2008 9:27 am

    This is one of my favorites of the year, and I’m so glad it didn’t disappoint!

  5. October 15, 2008 9:30 am

    Kathy, I’m glad you weren’t disappointed by this book. I am looking forward to reading it one of these days too. My daughter is named Juliet and that just adds to the appeal for me 🙂

  6. October 15, 2008 9:32 am

    I loved this book too! It’s still my favorite of 2008. I just fell in love with everything about it and haven’t read anything to match it this year. I’m glad you weren’t disappointed after all the build-up it’s been getting.

  7. Amy permalink
    October 15, 2008 9:35 am

    I have this one waiting to be read. So many books so little time…..truly my life story…LOL.

  8. October 15, 2008 9:35 am

    This book stares me from my unread pile everyday but I have been ignoring it for sometime. Simply beacause I feel its a book men may not be able to appreciate much. However, I guess, i must give it a try soon.

  9. October 15, 2008 9:57 am

    I’ve heard a lot about this book, and I have it, but I haven’t read it yet for the same reason as you. Maybe I’ll be inclined to pick it up soon!

  10. October 15, 2008 10:40 am

    I completely agree about the book making me miss the art of letter writing! The correspondence was just so lovely. I’m glad you enjoyed Guernsey!

  11. October 15, 2008 10:48 am

    I haven’t read this one yet. There’s been so much hype about it. I think I am waiting for it to die down so I can fully appreciate it.

    The art of letter writing has gone out the window hasn’t it? My hand has forgotten how to do cursive. How sad is that? I am so used to typing that when I do try and write something by hand it looks like a 5 year old wrote it. So sad.

  12. October 15, 2008 10:54 am

    I can’t wait to read this book! It’s still on my bookshelf taunting me! But I’ll get to it soon. 😉

    I like books written in letter form, as well as books in the WWII era, so I think I’ll enjoy this one.

  13. October 15, 2008 11:08 am

    I loved this book, too. The audio version of thebook is especially great because there are multiple readers — both men and women. I was fortunate enough to live in Guernsey in the early 1980s. It’s a lovely place, but even almost 40 years after the war (when I was there), you could still see signs of the German occupation.

  14. October 15, 2008 11:13 am

    This is one of my favorite books of this year. It does deserve all the hype, IMO! I adore books written in letter or journal form so I appreciated that tremendously. Even though letter writing isn’t as common these days, we always have our son write thank you notes for gifts. He also has a penpal he writes to which encourages letter writing. I want him to make sure he gets some experience writing letters!

  15. October 15, 2008 11:47 am

    For such a little book, it packed a big punch. And I had the same feelings about Guernsey by the end of the book.

  16. October 15, 2008 12:18 pm

    I bought this book for myself for my birthday after reading many positive reviews, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it, yet. I need to bump it up on my TBR pile.

  17. October 15, 2008 12:29 pm

    Great review! I haven’t read it yet but it’s been all over the place, as a bunch of your commenters have said. Gonna have to think about it! 🙂

  18. October 15, 2008 1:08 pm

    I want to read this soon. I love the quote you shared!

  19. October 15, 2008 2:09 pm

    I’ve got this one on my stacks, but I haven’t read it due to the fact that I’ve got a backlog of ARCs. Silly me.

    Bermudaonion, you’ve just won my copy of Walking Through Walls. Would you please contact me with your address at bookfoolery (at) gmail (dot) com?

  20. October 15, 2008 2:27 pm

    I got this through the LT Early Reviwers in July and I loved it. I’m so glad other people appreciate it too.

  21. October 15, 2008 3:50 pm

    I don’t think I have read a bad review of this book…which always makes me nervous. I am sure I will be the one person to hate it…lol
    But I finally gave in and ordered it from Amazon. If I had not gone with the free shipping I would have it by now!

  22. October 15, 2008 5:00 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this book — I absolutely loved it and wanted to give it to everyone who loves books like I do….the book just makes you want to share it with everyone.

  23. October 15, 2008 7:02 pm

    Yeah! I have this one on my mp3 player from Audible. I can’t wait to read it. The letter format should carry over very well in audio for me. I have such fond memories of being read letters when I was younger. Great review!

  24. October 15, 2008 8:09 pm

    You know, I was kind of turned off by the very long and kitchy title, but I keep hearing such rave things about it. I’m going to have to break down and pick it up, I guess. 🙂

  25. October 16, 2008 12:18 pm

    I LOVED this book. It was just, I don’t know…a joy to read. Even in the dark times, they bonded together, I enjoyed that. They did good things for others, and persevered. It was a great read.

  26. October 17, 2008 5:35 pm

    Great review! This book is one of my favorite books of all time, it will probably always be in my top ten. I loved everything about it. It reminded me, in a way, of Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road, another favorite and a great book of letters (but they were real ones).

  27. October 17, 2008 5:43 pm

    I’ve resisted buying this book because of the big build-up. Like you, I fear being disappointed with all the hype. I’m so glad to know that you enjoyed it fully and it met your expectations … there may be a *Guernsay Literary and Potato Peel Society* in my future after all!

  28. October 18, 2008 1:10 am

    I love the title of this book. I enjoyed reading your review, Kathy. It’s definitely one I hope to get to one of these days.

  29. October 18, 2008 4:17 pm

    Wow…really? That’s the exact reason I’ve avoided this book. Thanks!

  30. mountainpoppy permalink
    October 19, 2008 6:13 am

    Ditto to the comments from folks who bought it then set it aside for later. I do the same – I hate to read something while it’s ‘hot’. I waited years for both ‘Geisha’ and ‘Corelli’s Mandolin’ and ended up loving both (although I started Corelli about 8 times and hated it. 9 was the charm!)
    But – Guernsey is just lovely. Such a small story in some ways, but with so much depth and color, and such beautiful characters. I liked the way that the characters were individually well described and delineated as people, but how Ms. Shaffer left their looks fairly incomplete so that you could fill in the ‘images’ for yourself.
    To ‘bookcrazy’ – a man’s book? Hard to say that. But if you like great fictional characters living their extraordinary yet every-day lives in a real, historical situation this is a wonderful, winding story. If you’re after high drama, suspense, or extreme tension and conflict this isn’t the one for you.
    I brought this book with me on an overseas trip with the intention of leaving it behind when I packed. But it’s too good to leave, so it will fly home with me to be passed around to friends and family – that’s how much I enjoyed it!

  31. October 20, 2008 4:01 pm

    I just finished this and absolutely loved it.

  32. October 21, 2008 6:34 pm

    I keep hearing about this one too! Everyone seems to like it 🙂 It’s on my list!

  33. Lesley permalink
    December 4, 2008 6:56 am

    This book is a gem. I read an article about it in a magazine and about Mary Ann Shaffer and thought “I have to read that”. Before I could start reading my book group chose it as their book of the month and off I went! I would say it is the best book I have read all year. I didn’t want it to end – which is a common phrase used by everyone I know who has read it. I cannot praise this book highly enough. Loved it!

  34. Marilyn Manson permalink
    June 9, 2009 9:42 am

    Charming, for sure, but predictable with one-dimensional, poorly developed characters. I was disappointed.

  35. July 15, 2009 3:15 pm

    That quote you give is one I was looking for as I tried to write up my review! Thanks for sharing it. I was skimming most of the book again and I still couldn’t find it.

  36. September 19, 2010 4:29 pm

    I also avoided this book because of the title. It just sounded so corny. But, I absolutely loved it and it is now on my list of all-time favorite books. I think it’s tragic that there will be no more from this wonderful author.
    Dianne

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